The Right to Repair movement got state legislatures to consider more than a dozen Right to Repair bills last year, and have made great strides in the EU and elsewhere, but for every two steps forward they manage, they're forced a step or two back by giant corporate lobbyists, led by Apple, who want to ensure that third parties can't repair products, and that a manufacturer's decision it's time to retire a product from the market won't be challenged by independent repair depots.
Repair is a huge industry — depending on how you measure it, it's between 1-4% of US GDP. And most of that business is done by mom-and-pop shops and medium-sized service depots.
That diffused market means that repair dollars stay in their communities, rather than being stashed overseas by tax-dodgers like Apple. But it also means that the companies who lose when Right to Repair is defeated have to overcome a lot of coordination costs to push back effectively.
All that is about to change: Allstate, a giant insurance company, has just acquired Icracked, a large phone repair chain (Allstate made the acquisition through its Squaretrade subsidiary, which offers third-party warranties on a variety of products).
Allstate has pledged to use its might to fight for Right to Repair, loaning R2R activists its state lobbyists to help see bills through.
Allstate, the fourth-largest insurance company in the country, is an ally the movement is happy to have.
"Right now, the struggle on right to repair is us Davids versus a whole slew of Goliaths," Nathan Proctor, the Director of the Campaign for the Right to Repair at US PIRG told me in an email. "In the end, even if some larger companies support the right to repair, the reason will end up winning is because legislators hear from their constituents, if more Davids join in, and make their voices heard."
Insurance Giant Allstate Buys Independent Phone Repair Company, Joins Right to Repair Movement [Matthew Gault/Motherboard]